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Gerada hits back over A&E crisis and tells MPs: 'Practices are fully booked by 8:30am'

Practices are increasingly becoming fully booked for the day by 8:30am because GPs are so overworked, RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada has warned MPs.

Professor Gerada told the Commons health committee that the profession is becoming ‘demoralised’ over headlines blaming GPs for the current crisis in A&E, and accused health secretary Jeremy Hunt of being ‘lazy’ in blaming the GP contract.

Speaking at the health committee’s inquiry into emergency services, Professor Gerada said: ‘I’m getting emails from colleagues across the country saying their surgeries are fully booked by 8:30am in the morning, which is disgraceful. How can we run an NHS where you cannot get, unless it is an emergency – and by that I mean a dire emergency – an appointment with the GP on the day? This is not because GPs are playing golf, but because they are working 15-hour days.

She added: ‘We see outside our practice queues going down the road, which I have not seen since the flu epidemic. We need a whole system approach, to look at the underinvestment in GP care – we have 9% of the resources for 90% of the activity.’

Professor Gerada attacked Mr Hunt’s recent comments on out-of-hours care and negative headlines in the media, warning that the profession was becoming demoralised.

She told the MPs: ‘It is lazy to blame the 2004 contract… that is 10 years old for a problem that has come about recently, taking into account we’ve seen more or less a flat line in A&E attendance.’

‘We have never stopped delivering out-of-hours care. Who do you think delivers out-of-hours care now? It is the GP. We deliver 90% of all activity in the NHS. But we are not trained to deliver emergency care. You do not want me chopping your leg off in the middle of the night.’

‘It’s demoralising for my profession to be on the front page of some of the newspapers with our feet up.’

She added that ‘many’ GPs across the country wanted to go back to the co-op system ‘mainly because you get a sense of solidarity and we want to do the best for our patients’.  

‘Some are being blocked, some are desperate to do it but feel that they can’t because of the current workforce and we’ll see another exodus of GPs if they are forced to do it,’ she said.

Health minister Dr Dan Poulter said: ‘A&E services had a very bad winter, with additional pressures from flu, norovirus and very bad weather, which stopped some staff from getting into work and created additional pressures for older people in particular.’

‘What we do know is that we have come through the difficult period and data from the last five weeks has shown A&E is back on track, where it needs to be in treating patients in a timely manner.’

Readers' comments (31)

  • Vinci Ho

    I hope people can clarify the difference between waiting time in A/E getting longer and the actual number of attendance in A/E( which has not really risen in last ten years).
    Some b******s obviously are trying confuse the public , Clare . The truth cannot be heard if this concept , of coping mechanism in A/E is crashing because of the wonderful Nicholson Challenge( which is a term politicians are trying to avoid at the moment for the obvious **c***g reasons) , is NOT dissipated.
    Haven't felt like swearing like this for a while.......

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  • At the end of the day it is entirely reasonable for any indivdual, whether in the government, BMA, RCGP or grassroots GPs to give us the benefit of their opinion of how the service should be run.
    It is up to the government to procure the service it wants.
    And is up to individual GPs to decide if they want to accept the offer put to them.........Interesting times!

    Does the BMA intend to do a survey of GPs retirement/resignation plans ( not threats) ?

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  • Tom Caldwell

    Perhaps if more Drs leaders had the balls that Prof Gerada has, then the Government's harmful attacks on the NHS and the profession could have been less damaging. Though I do not agree with everything Prof Gerada says I do agree with a lot and I respect her stance in representing me. I do not relish the return to Government lap dogs when she steps down in November.

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  • I'm sorry Clare but I think you're being hopelessly naive, as already demonstrated by Mr Hunt's comments. There is no way this would be restricted to a few patients (how would this work?) and within a few years we'd be back to universal coverage and then dwindling funds.

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  • Vinci Ho

    No matter whether everybody agrees with everything Clare said , she can be labelled as a war hawk . Every organisation should have a optimal balance between war hawks and war doves , optimal to current circumstances . Question is what will the new cabinet of RCGP consist of in November? Remember we are at war , war on bashing and bullying (WOBB)......

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  • An alternative analysis would be that the practices are not offering enough appointments for their patients. As independent businesses it is upto practices to staff to meet the needs and requirements of their contracts they chose to sign up to.

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  • Gerada's performances on the Today programme and at the Select Committee Hearing were superb, but her views on OOH care as reported by the Guardian are well off target. Vautrey's response is spot on in every respect.

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  • Anon Gps are working at capacity
    So A and E get more funds to meet demand
    What about community care?
    Is there no recognition of increased patient
    This is not a free market where demand can
    Be controlled by price
    So such comparison are meaningless
    If you can not regulate demand you have to
    Increase supply.....resources please!

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  • I think certain of my colleagues don't love me at the moment - there is no rule book in this job - sometimes one has to feel the way forward - and this feels the right way forward. We are losing the PR battle and though its not the most important issue - its still important if our patients begin to quote the DM lies.

    There have been no secret talks with SOS (there haven't been even un-secret talks)

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